While inputs like SAT scores, class rank, and GPA are plentiful, there are very few measures of college outputs, and the ones that are reported are very concerning. An analysis of college sophomores finds only 30% will graduate in four years while 56% will graduate in six years. And about 40% of those entering college will never receive a diploma. Even colleges with high graduation rates have no way to measure the quality of the education, independent of their selective admission of students.
Universities are quick to shift the blame to K-12 schools and the host of freshmen needing remedial courses, but longer undergraduate careers actually benefit universities financially. They guarantee a steady cash flow despite tightening state budgets.
A new publication from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation offers a way to measure and improve college performance. Performance Audit Tools for Higher Education recommends performance audits of public higher education universities. Unlike financial audits, performance audits compare input and output data to see if a university is living up to its mission to serve students and taxpayers. In other words, it indicates whether students are actually learning something in college.
With drastically rising tuition and a historical lack of oversight, it’s time to consider performance audits to ensure universities are putting the education of their students and efficient use of tax dollars first.